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.ca in a 30 Teams In 30 Days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. Today, we examine the 2011-12 campaign for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. And use the Your Call feature to give us your take! Theres really only one question concerning Penguins fans this season: when will Sidney Crosby be ready to play? The answer, of course, is a definitive who knows? at this point. But the fact of the matter is that the longer Crosbys status remains uncertain, the harder it will be for the Pens to keep up in the East. The team did well without The Kid last season under the guidance of Jack Adams Award-winning coach Dan Bylsma, but one has to wonder how long the team can keep up without its leader and one of the games brightest stars. Heres whats in store for the Penguins in 2011-12. Additions: LW Steve MacIntyre, D Alexandre Picard, LW Steve Sullivan, RW Jason Williams Subtractions: RW Eric Godard, RW Alex Kovalev, D Corey Potter, C Michael Rupp, LW Brett Sterling, C Maxime Talbot Prospect Report: The name of the game in the Pens system is defence. Their 2009 first-rounder Simon Despres should be ready to make the jump soon and the Pens also used their first pick in this past summers draft to take two-way defender Joe Morrow from Portland of the WHL. Up front, the team has high hopes for Eric Tangradi, who saw a 15-game audition over three stints with the big club last season. It should surprise few that the Pens prospect pool relies heavily on defencemen for a couple reasons. First off, with three of the games premier centres in the 25-and-under bracket already on their roster, the amount of forward help they need is lessened. Secondly, the team has made a habit of trading young defenders for help on the wings, having dealt young studs Ryan Whitney and Alex Goligoski in the past three years for Chris Kunitz and James Neal, so keeping the pipeline full has proven beneficial. Breakout Player to Watch: The first time a player gets traded, its always a big system shock. Thats why its a decent bet to expect James Neal to be much better this coming season. Acquired from Dallas just before the trade deadline, Neal went to Pittsburgh with 39 points but would add only one more goal and six more points in the following 20 games. Considering the sudden change of scenery for the 23-year-old may have affected his play (and that he played those 20 games without both Crosby and Evgeni Malkin), that number can only go up if one or both of them are healthy. Marquee Match-Up: Call it a Comeback? Oct. 13 vs. Washington - While the outlook is still muddy at best for Crosbys return, any time these two teams line up against one another, its always a great show. Malkin and Alex Ovechkin have a storied and colourful past together, Mike Green and Kris Letang have emerged as two of the games best young puck-movers and with the addition of Tomas Vokoun, the Caps boast of a stud goalie to rival Marc-Andre Fleury. Other Dates to Watch: Dec. 29 vs. Philadelphia - Jaromir Jagr returns to where it all began, as a member of the cross-state-rival Flyers. Feb. 29 at Dallas - Neal visits the Stars for the first time since being dealt. Reason to Get Excited: Things can only look up after last season. Just about everything that could go wrong for the Pens injury-wise in 2010-11 did, and the team still finished a point behind Washington for first in the Eastern Conference. The team racked up 106 points despite Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal each playing less than 45 games. With a cleaner bill of health, the Pens could challenge for the Presidents Trophy. The team may still be a contender without a full squad - based on last years results. Home Hardware: Theres little Sidney Crosby has yet to add to his trophy case, but one that may well be within reach is the Bill Masterton Trophy. Given for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, its Crosbys for the taking if he can return to form after his lengthy recovery period. Consider that Crosby wound up leading the team in scoring last season despite playing only 41 games. Consider also the 25-game points streak that he was riding until just three games before the injury occurred. Sid was running away with the Hart Trophy like few have in recent history. Just a week later, speculation began that he may never play again. If he returns to prominence, hell be out front for the Masterton. If he returns to dominance, no one will even come close to challenging him. And of course if he returns to dominance, he will be a favourite for the Hart, Art Ross and Ted Lindsay awards as well. Other potential Trophy winners for the Penguins include Evgeni Malkin who will also challenge for the Art Ross, and Jordan Staal for the Selke. On The Hot Seat: The Penguins took a chance on Steve Sullivan in the off-season, picking the winger up as a free agent on the cheap in the hopes that he can stay healthy and contribute to their top six forwards. The problem is that since the lockout, Sullivan has only once played more than 70 games in one season. Last season it was his groin and in 2007-08 he missed the entire season with a back injury. At 37, this may be Sullivans last kick at the can. Its Your! Call: If Sid is out long-term, whose team is this? No one seems to know how long it will be until Crosby returns to the Penguins, or if hell return at all. In his absence, the teams leadership should naturally fall to Malkin. Malkin was the teams best player in its 2010 Stanley Cup run, but has been known to be moody and streaky at times. Staal has the ability to take a game on his shoulders and lead by example with exceptional two-way play, but its not often that a teams shutdown centre steps up to be the man on the scoreboard. Fleury is outspoken, but as Roberto Luongo demonstrated in Vancouver, a goalie can only do so much to rally the troops and Letang - while emerging as an elite rearguard - is not even an alternate captain for the Pens. The team has done well under Bylsmas tutelage, but if Crosbys not ready, who steps up to take the lead in Pittsburgh? Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Jersey
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. -- A horse with a humble pedigree. ARLINGTON, Texas -- Those Martinez sluggers in the middle of the Detroit Tigers lineup keep coming up big. Most everyone already knew about Victor. Now they are getting familiar with J.D. The unrelated players homered on consecutive pitches by different Texas pitchers in the fifth, after back-to-back doubles in a three-run first, as the AL Central-leading Tigers stretched their winning streak to six games with an 8-6 victory at Texas. "Hes been swinging the bat great, and hes a guy that has a lot of power," cleanup hitter Victor said of J.D. "Hes getting a chance to play more often, and hes been doing a lot of damage." After Victor Martinez led off the fifth with his 20th homer to chase Joe Saunders (0-4), J.D. went deep on the first pitch thrown by reliever Shawn Tolleson. "Thats how he attacked me (Tuesday). He struck me out on three straight fastballs. ... He likes to leave the ball up. Im looking for a fastball there," J.D. Martinez said. "Its never a bad plan, either, looking for a fastball up." It was his ninth homer this season, the sixth during a 14-game hitting streak that is the longest active in the majors. J.D. Martinez is hitting .418 (23 for 55) with eight doubles and 17 RBIs in that span. "Vics been swinging the bat well all year, right-handed, left-handed, you take your pick," manager Brad Ausmus said. "The thing about J.D. is his power. When he gets hot, the ball is going to travel." Victor and J.D. also had consecutive doubles when Detroit went ahead to stay with three runs in the first inning. Texas lost its seventh consecutive game, the longest current losing streak in the majors. "Its definitely hard to comprehend a seven-game losing streak, but it is what it is," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We knew why. Weve got to score some runs, and weve got to pitch better." The Rangers trailed 6-3 when left-hander Saunders left after giving up seven hits and walking five. Julius Peppers Packers Jersey
. Anibal Sanchez (5-2) struck out five and allowed four runs in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 5-0 in his eight starts since coming off the disabled list May 18 after missing three weeks with a cut on his right middle finger. Joe Nathan, the Texas closer the last two seasons before leaving in free agency, gave up a run in the ninth before clinching his 16th save in 21 chances. Carlos Pena homered and scored twice in his second game back with the Rangers, the team he made his major league debut for in 2001 before being traded the following winter. Detroits first five hits were for extra bases before Torii Hunters RBI single in the third made it 5-0. Rajai Davis led off the game with a triple into the right-centre gap. Ian Kinsler then walked on four pitches and Miguel Cabrera had a sacrifice fly before the consecutive Martinez doubles. Kinsler and Cabrera had consecutive doubles to start the third. Texas scored three times in the fourth, which started when Shin-Soo Choo singled before Adrian Beltres RBI double. Pena singled and came home on a single by Robinson Chirinos. Texas rookie second baseman Rougned Odor struck out for the third time in the eighth, but made it to the third base after a wild pitch and a throwing error by catcher Bryan Holaday. Odor was initially called out sliding into third base by umpire Tim Welke even as the ball rolled free, but the umpiring crew conferred and changed the call to safe without a replay. NOTES: The Rangers are a season-high 12 1-2 games behind Oakland in the AL West, their largest deficit since the end of the 2008 season. ... The Rangers are 16-21 at home, where they have lost six of their last seven. ... When Pena homered in the sixth, the ball landed in a pan of brisket set up in a seating area in the right-field corner. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China
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